Pennsylvania Land Based Casinos – Location Finder and Category Types

Pennsylvania is home to 12 brick-and-mortar casinos, which offer gambling on anything from slots and table games to horse racing and poker. Needless to say, residents and visitors alike will have no trouble finding a venue spreading their favorite formats, especially along the eastern border of the state.

While PA’s first horse racing track opened way back in 1963, it wasn’t until 2004 that the state permitted slot machine gaming. In 2010, lawmakers went even further, allowing properties to add table games like blackjack and craps to their gaming floors. In addition, player will soon be able to partake in legal online gambling and pop in to an array of satellite casinos.

The industry has become such an unmitigated success for the state that it now takes its place as the second biggest gambling market in the US, behind only Nevada.

PA casino categories

Pennsylvania land-based casinos are broken down into four categories, each of which requires a specific type of license. The PA Gaming Control Board has the authority to grant up to 25 licenses for permanent gaming operations. Here’s a rundown of each license type:

  • Racinos: Category 1 license (6 in operation, 7 total permitted)
  • Standalone casinos: Category 2 license (4 in operation + 1 planned, 5 total permitted)
  • Resort casinos: Category 3 license (2 in operation, 3 total permitted)
  • Satellite casinos: Category 4 license (5 planned, 10 total permitted)

Racinos (Category 1)

The term “racino” refers to venues which offer patrons a combination of wagering on horse races and traditional casino games. This type of license is only available to properties which host live horse racing at least 100 days out of the year. License holders pay a $50 million fee for the right to operate up to 5,000 slot machines and a $24,750,000 fee to spread up to 250 table games. At present, there are six of such properties dotted throughout the state.

PA racinos:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National
  • The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
  • Parx Casino
  • Presque Isle Downs

Harrah’s Philadelphia

Located on the waterfront in Chester, Harrah’s received its temporary slot license on September 27th, 2006 and its permanent license on December 20th of the same year. The racino opened on January 22th, 2007.

The casino spans 100,000 square feet, hosting 2,900 slot machines and a 14,000 square foot event center. Its table games debuted on July 18th, 2010.

The facility is owned by Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, a division of Caesars Entertainment Corporation.


Hollywood Casino at Penn National

Owned by Penn National, Hollywood Casino opened its racino on February 12th, 2008 and debuted table games on July 23rd, 2010.

The property features over 2,377 slots and video poker machines, along with over 50 table games and 16 poker tables.


The Meadows Racetrack and Casino

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a standardbred harness racing track and slot machine casino located approximately 25 miles south of Pittsburgh. It was acquired by Penn National in December 2017 through the $2.8 billion purchase of Pinnacle Entertainment.

The racetrack opened on June 28th, 1963 and received its casino license on September 27th, 2006. Casino construction began on November 16, 2006 and a temporary site officially opened for business on June 11, 2007. The permanent facility opened on April 15, 2009.

The casino features 350,000 square feet of space and over 3,300 slot machines. Table games made their debut on July 8, 2010 after an invite-only test date on July 6th.

The Meadows is renowned for its use of RFID game chips, which feature a microchip that confirms that the chip is legitimate. This measure prevents the counterfeiting of chips.


Mohegan Sun Pocono

Mohegan Sun Pocono, located in Plains Township on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, is a racino featuring 2,300 slots and more than 90 live blackjack, poker and roulette tables.

The racino was the first to debut in Pennsylvania, opening its doors in November of 2006. The casino was also one of the first to begin offering table games, starting on July 13th, 2010.

The facility is owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut and features 82,000 square feet of gaming space.


Parx Casino

Parx Casino, owned by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., opened its casino on December 18th, 2009.  The racino received its license on September 27th, 2006 and debuted table games on July 18th, 2010. The property features 3,500 slots, 130 live table games and a state-of-the-art 48-table poker room.

In terms of pure revenue, Parx is the most popular casino in the state, consistently outperforming its competitors.


Presque Isle Downs and Casino

Presque Isle Downs and Casino is a racino owned and operated by Churchill Downs. The original owners broke ground in October 2005 with the track opening for business on February 28th, 2007.

The site contains 2,000 slot machines and a comprehensive array of table games, including a state-of-the-art poker room and a High Limit Room.


Standalone casinos (Category 2)

Category 2 licenses are granted to standalone brick-and-mortar casinos, which are allowed to offer the same number of slots and table games as Category 1 license holders for the same fees.

PA law requires that exactly two of the five Category 2 licensees be located in Philadelphia, and that one be situated in Pittsburgh. Aside from the exception allowing two licensees to operate in Philadelphia, the law does not permit any Category 2 gambling facility to be located within 20 miles of any other Cat 2 venue.

Category 2 licensees must also keep their distance from Cat 1 facilities, anywhere from 10-30 miles. There are five standalone casinos operating in PA.

PA standalone casinos:

  • Sands Bethlehem
  • Rivers Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort
  • Live! Philadelphia Casino & Hotel

Sands Bethlehem

Sands is built on the 126-acre former site of the Bethlehem Steel Plant. The casino officially opened for business on May 22, 2009 after a one-year delay due to construction-related issues.

The property was originally owned and operated by Las Vegas Sands Corporation until its sale to Wind Creek Hospitality in March 2018. It was one of five casinos to be awarded a slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on December 20th, 2006.

The facility was granted a license for table games in the winter of 2010, rolling them out on July 18th, 2010.

The accompanying Sands Hotel opened its doors on May 27th, 2011.


Rivers Casino

Rivers Casino is located along the Ohio River in Pittsburgh’s Chateau neighborhood. It is one of two properties in the state, along with Sugarhouse Casino, operated by Rush Street Gaming.

The casino is owned by Holdings Acquisition Co. L.P., a joint venture between Walton Street Capital LLC and High Pitt Gaming LP. The company took over a majority interest after original owner Don H. Barden defaulted on loans and payments to contractors.

The facility was one of five to be awarded a Category 2 slots license on December 20th, 2006. Ground broke on the casino in December of 2007, and it opened on August 9th, 2009.

The 120,000 square foot property features nearly 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games.


Sugarhouse Casino

Sugarhouse Casino also received its license in December 2006. Developers broke ground on the project on October 9th, 2009, and the casino officially opened for business on September 23rd, 2010.

The complex boasts a whopping 1.3 million square feet of space and is built on the site of the former Jack Frost sugar refinery. Sugarhouse offers 1,602 slot machines and 54 table games, along with retail and dining outlets and an event center.


Mount Airy Casino

Mount Airy Casino, located in Mount Pocono, opened on October 22nd, 2007 and debuted table games on July 23rd, 2010.

The casino features more than 1,800 slots and a full array of table games, including baccarat, roulette, craps, blackjack and poker.


Live! Casino and Hotel (planned)

  • Website: cordish.com
  • Address: 900 Packer Ave.
  • Gaming options: Slots, table games, poker

In 2014, Cordish Cos. emerged victorious in a battle to buy the one remaining Philadelphia casino license offered by the state.

With the necessary permits in hand, the company plans to build a 220-room hotel along with a casino that features 2,000 slot machines, 125 table games and a 33-table poker room. Also in the works is a pair of entertainment venues and six restaurants.

The complex will be located smack dab inside the sports epicenter of the state, in close proximity to Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center.

While construction on Live! has not yet begun, the company has stated that the casino doors could open as soon as 2020. The total projected cost for the project is a cool $400 million


Resort casinos (Category 3)

Only two properties hold Category 3 licenses in the state, although in 2017 an additional Cat 3 license came up for grabs. Resorts may not be located within 15 miles of any other licensed gambling property in PA.

Category 3 license holders pay a $5 million fee to offer up to 600 slots and a $11,250,000 fee for up to 50 table games.

PA resort casinos:

  • Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is owned and operated by Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.

The property opened on July 1st, 2013 and features approximately 600 slot machines and 29 table games. Nemacolin comes in dead last in terms of revenue earned by the state’s land-based casinos.


Valley Forge Casino Resort

The Valley Forge Casino Resort became the 11th casino to operate in the state when it opened on March 31st, 2012.

Before opening, it was forced to overcome a legal challenge by Parx Casino, which claimed Valley Forge did not meet Category 3 requirements. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Valley Forge, paving the way for its opening.

Valley Forge features 40,000 feet of space with 600 slot machines and 50 table games. In December 2017, Boyd Gaming purchased the property for $280.5 million.


Satellite casinos (Category 4)

In October 2017, lawmakers passed legislation giving state casino licensees the option to purchase a permit to build one of 10 satellite casinos.

These venues, classified as Category 4 properties, are essentially miniature versions of existing PA land-based casinos, and give license holders the right to house between 300-750 slot machines along with up to 30 table games.

Licenses were put up for auction starting in January 2018, with bids starting at a minimum of $7.5 million.

While a handful of auctions have passed without even a single bid, overall, the process has proven very lucrative for the state. So far, PA has reaped $127 million in revenue in Category 4 licensing fees.

PA satellite casinos

Here are how the auctions have played out to date, including the approximate location of each satellite casino:

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